How to Help a Stressed Dog: Understanding the Signs and Solutions

There are over 76.8 million dogs in the US, and they’re spread out across 48.2 million households. It’s clear that these canines are immensely popular as pets, especially since they provide companionship and comfort in our times of need.

Dogs can get stressed out though, which can upset both you and your pet. It won’t be a fun time for either of you, so it’s essential that you know the signs of a stressed pup and what to do to help.

Read on to learn some handy information to make your pet happy!


Signs of a Stressed Dog

Dogs will use a combination of verbal and physical cues to tell you something’s wrong. Here are the ones you should look out for if you’re worried about Fido being stressed out.

Whining or Barking

It’s true that dogs will whine or bark if they’re excited or want attention. This is why it’s important to see how your puppy’s behaving while they’re giving these verbal signals.

When they’re stressed out, they won’t be able to control their whining and barking. You’ll also see the other signs below.


Many people mistake growling as a sign of aggression. 

However, this is a canine’s way to display stress, especially if they’re uncomfortable with a situation. The behavioral experts at The Dog Wizard say that growling’s a way for pups to tell you they feel threatened, crowded, or in pain. This makes growling a useful communication tool!

This is why you shouldn’t discourage your dog from growling. If they learn that you don’t like it, your pet may skip the warning next time and bite you to get the message across.


Many animals display stress by pacing, and dogs are no exception. This means that they have pent-up energy over something causing them anxiety.

Do note that short periods of pacing are usually fine, as your pup may just be excited about something, such as their next meal. But if you notice your pet doing this often or for longer periods of time, then they might be stressed out.

For senior dogs, this is a symptom of dementia. So book an appointment with your vet promptly if your older dog is pacing.


On the opposite spectrum, your puppy might freeze with stress. Often, this is due to something they can actually see, rather than something mentally bothering them.

Freezing is a serious sign of stress since it shows that your furry friend is shutting down. It’s very likely that the next interaction will result in a bite.

Other Body Language to Look For

Like humans, dogs have some types of body language that can overlap, so use this as a guideline. Some signs to watch out for include:

  • Raised hackles
  • Tucked ears
  • Tucked tail
  • Lip licking
  • Panting
  • Yawning
  • Whale eye (revealing the whites of their eyes)
  • Avoidance of eye contact

How to Help a Stressed Dog

If you’ve noticed the above signs in your furry friend, then you might feel bad that they’re stressed. But the good news is, there are steps you can take to alleviate things and make your pup happy again.

Below are a few things you can try.

Remove Them From the Stressor

One of the easiest and quickest ways to help a stressed dog is to remove them from the stressor or take it away from them. Make sure their environment is quiet and uncrowded.

You can comfort them, but be careful not to go overboard. This can backfire and cause more anxiety and stress.

If you want to give your pup some treats, then use them as rewards for obeying commands. Some dogs find comfort in routine and normalcy, so giving yours some commands to obey can be beneficial.

Create a Safe Space in Your Home

Have you had times when you felt overwhelmed by your environment? Chances are, your dog has too.

Create a safe space in your home where your pet can escape when they feel anxious. Fill it with their favorite toys, blankets, dog beds, etc.

dog on grass

Ensure this space is always accessible, so your dog can release the tension on their terms.

Get Some Exercise

Physical activity is an excellent way to relieve stress. It doesn’t have to be intense either, so you won’t have to worry about keeping up with your pet.

Take Fido outside for a walk or run, and you’ll see improvements right away. You can even sit at home playing fetch, and this can help take their mind off stressors.

Sign Up for Dog Training

A dog that’s not well-trained can easily become stressed out, especially when you leave them alone or put them in new and strange situations. If you’ve never taken training classes with your furry friend, then consider signing up for them.

In the classes, the behavioral experts can assess your puppy and help you improve your relationship with them. For example, here are some of your actions that might stress a canine out:

  • Staring directly at them
  • Giving unclear commands
  • Excessively punishing them

You can alter your behavior, which has a positive effect on your pet. 

See the Vet

It’s not normal for a dog to constantly be stressed out. If you’ve tried everything above, and they’re still showing signs of anxiety, then it’s time to go to the vet.

They can examine your pup and see if it’s a medical issue causing them stress. If Fido gets a clean bill of health, then your vet might prescribe them antianxiety medications if they feel it’s necessary.

Keep Your Pet Happy

It’s never fun seeing your pet distressed or unhappy. Not only is it disheartening, but it can also create the perfect conditions for them to bite someone, especially if you don’t recognize that they’re stressed.

So keep this article in mind and watch out for signs of stress. If it seems like your puppy is distraught, then try the tips we’ve given you to calm them down.

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